Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia
, a poor nation on the east coast
. It is the country's largest city
, with the last estimate putting the population at 1.2 million people.
Mogadishu was originally settled by Arab peoples sometime around the year 900. By the 12th century, it had grown to become a trade center for the east coast of the continent.
Portugal colonized and controlled the city from the 16th century until 1871, when the Sultan of Zanzibar took over.
In 1892, he leased the whole place to Italy, and in 1905, they purchased the city and made it the capital of the Italian colony of Somaliland.
During World War II, the city was captured by the British, and after the war was mishandled along with the rest of Africa.
Constant clan warfare and civil strife plagued the city and surrounding countryside for decades. The fighting flared most visibly starting in 1992, when United Nations Peacekeepers were drawn in.
At one time it was a major port, and the commercial center of the country. Now it's just the biggest free fire zone in a Mad Max theme park the size of Texas. There is almost no industry in the city, what does exist revolves around food and cotton processing.
Its most historic buildings include the Mosque of Fakr Ad-Din, built in 1269, and the Sultan's Garesa Palace, dating back to the late 19th century. Everything else is pretty much ruined.
The city is linked by road with Kenya to the west, and Ethiopia to the north, however travel is fraught with danger, even in the more stable breakaway area of Somaliland.
It is also the operating base for very active pirates preying on ships travelling through the Indian Ocean towards the Middle East or the Suez Canal.